A Scope Trick For Low-Vis Situations
By Ian Kenney
Last fall I participated in a Reticle Workshop held at Reade Range, PA that encompassed using only the scope’s reticle to engage targets during the day and at night. During the night portion of the course the students could use their reticle, or dial in their dope settings if they wanted, in order to engage the targets. I saw quite a few white lights lighting up scopes and shooters alike, sometimes to the other shooters’ discomfort, in an effort to check dope settings. It was after seeing this that I began to look for a low cost solution that could provide a visual and tactile indicator with no permanent modifications. I found the solution at Michaels arts and crafts store in the form of Scribble Glow-In-The-Dark paint. The concept for me was pretty simple, place two dots on both the elevation and windage assemblies, one on the main tube or assembly and one on the knob itself.
When the dots are hit with a little white light not only will they give you a visual reference when you’ve made a complete revolution but a visual check as well to make sure the knobs haven’t accidentally turned.
Here the knobs are in the zeroed out position.
Here you can tell that the windage knob isn't zeroed out because the dots do not line up. Without the visual indicator it probably would have gone unnoticed in low light conditions.
Now, if the dots become too dim to see, they can still be used as tactile indicators that will allow you to feel your way around the knobs in a pinch. This method also allows me to make adjustments more easily in low light conditions than if I had nothing at all. For example, if I wanted to dial in my 600 yard dope, I wouldn't have to count all of the clicks until I got there. By using the dots all I would have to do is turn the elevation knob until the glowing dot came back around to the index point. Since my elevation knob has 5 mils per revolution, all I would need to do from there is dial back 8 clicks and I'm where I need to be. To me, counting to 8 in the dark is a lot easier than counting to 42. While this isn’t a perfect solution, it is low cost and fairly effective for the amount of money that I have in it. The two biggest downsides to this that I can see is how long that dot wants to glow for and how long the paint wants to stay in place. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do about the luminous properties of the paint, however I imagine a thin layer of clear sealer or adhesive will allow the paint to stay in place longer. Despite this, I believe that this simple trick will work great with optics equipped with a zero stop and multi-turn turrets but it can readily adapted to any optic with externally adjustable knobs. In the near future I'd like to replace the paint with luminous tape to see how it can address some of the downsides of the paint while giving me some other options in terms patterns and shapes instead of dots.